Greater Blue Mountains Area


Brief Description

The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of 1.03 million ha of sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges dominated by temperate eucalypt forest. The site, comprised of eight protected areas, is noted for its representation of the evolutionary adaptation and diversification of the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation on the Australian continent. Ninety-one eucalypt taxa occur within the Greater Blue Mountains Area which is also outstanding for its exceptional expression of the structural and ecological diversity of the eucalypts associated with its wide range of habitats. The site provides significant representation of Australia’s biodiversity with ten percent of the vascular flora as well as significant numbers of rare or threatened species, including endemic and evolutionary relict species, such as the Wollemi pine, which have persisted in highly-restricted microsites.

Blue Mountains, Three Sisters Hanging Rock © Tourism Australia More pictures …

Statement of Significance

The World Heritage Committee inscribed the Greater Blue Mountains Area under natural criteria (ii) and (iv).

Criteria (ii) and (iv): Australia’s eucalypt vegetation is worthy of recognition as of outstanding universal value, because of its adaptability and evolution in post-Gondwana isolation. The site contains a wide and balanced representation of eucalypt habitats from wet and dry sclerophyll, mallee heathlands, as well as localised swamps, wetlands, and grassland. 90 eucalypt taxa (13% of the global total) and representation of all four groups of eucalypts occur. There is also a high level of endemism with 114 endemic taxa found in the area as well as 120 nationally rare and threatened plant taxa. The site hosts several evolutionary relic species (Wollemia, Microstrobos, Acrophyllum) which have persisted in highly restricted microsites.

Long Description

The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of 1.03 million hectares of sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges dominated by temperate eucalypt forest. The site, comprising eight protected areas, is noted for its representation of the evolutionary adaptation and diversification of the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation on the Australian continent. There are 91 eucalypt taxa within the Greater Blue Mountains Area, which is also outstanding for its exceptional expression of the structural and ecological diversity of the eucalypts associated with its wide range of habitats. The site provides significant representation of Australia’s biodiversity with 10% of the vascular flora as well as significant numbers of rare or threatened species, including endemic and evolutionary relict species, such as the Wollemi pine, which have persisted in highly-restricted microsites.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of mostly forested landscape on a sandstone plateau inland from central Sydney, New South Wales. The property, which includes eight protected areas in two blocks separated by a transportation and urban development corridor, is made up of seven national parks as well as the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve. These are the Blue Mountains, Wollemi, Yengo, Nattai, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks.

The area does not contain mountains in the conventional sense but is described as a deeply incised sandstone plateau rising from less than 100 m above sea level to 1,300 m at the highest point. There are basalt outcrops on the higher ridges. This plateau is thought to have enabled the survival of a rich diversity of plant and animal life by providing a refuge from climatic changes during recent geological history.

It is particularly noted for its wide and balanced representation of eucalypt habitats from wet and dry sclerophyll, mallee heathlands, as well as localized swamps, wetlands and grassland. There are 91 species of eucalypt (13% of the global total) in the Greater Blue Mountains Area, 12 of which are believed to occur only in the Sydney sandstone region.

In addition to its rich diversity of eucalypts, the Area also contains ancient, relict species of global significance. The most famous of these is the recently discovered Wollemi pine, a ‘living fossil’ dating back to the age of the dinosaurs. Thought to have been extinct for millions of years, the few surviving trees of this ancient species are known only from three small populations located in remote, inaccessible gorges within the nominated property. The Wollemi pine is one of the World’s rarest species.

More than 400 different kinds of animals live within the rugged gorges and tablelands of the Greater Blue Mountains Area. These include threatened or rare species of conservation significance, such as the spotted-tailed quoll, the koala, the yellow-bellied glider and the long-nosed potoroo, as well as rare reptiles including the green and golden bell frog and the Blue Mountains water skink.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: